Every once in a while in professional sports, there are athletes who come along that can best be described as ‘freaks of nature.’
Athletes like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Mike Trout can be described in this way.
For football, though, the first memory I have of seeing one of these types of athletes is when I watched receiver Calvin Johnson play for the Lions. Johnson stood 6-foot-5-inches, weighed nearly 240 pounds and ran a 4.35 second forty-yard dash.
With those measurables, it’s understandable why he obtained the nickname Megatron.
When he played, he looked to be in a class of his own. He was virtually unstoppable. Johnson eventually went on to set the record for most receiving yards in a season in 2012.
Teams would put a safety over the top and double cover him on nearly every down, but he would still make plays. He was just too big and too fast, even for two defensive backs.
When Megatron decided to hang up his cleats and retire, I thought that there would never be another player comparable to him. I was convinced I would never see an athlete like him on a football field again, especially at the receiver position.
Lo and behold, just four years after the retirement of Megatron, I think there’s a football player that is comparable to him.
That player’s name is D.K. Metcalf.
At 6-foot-4-inch, 230 pounds with a 4.33 forty-yard dash time, Metcalf boasts measurables strikingly similar to Megatron’s. However, in some ways, Metcalf’s measurables are even better than Megatron’s were.
Metcalf’s 4.33 forty time is the fastest anyone over 225 pounds has ever run a forty-yard dash at the NFL draft combine.
In fact, it was Metcalf’s performance at the combine that caught everyone’s eye and put him on the radar of NFL teams. In addition to the historic time, Metcalf recorded 27 reps on the bench press (about the average for linemen and the best among all receivers), a 40.5 inch vertical jump and an 134 inch broad jump.
All of these are ridiculous numbers for a receiver with his kind of size.
Following his performance at the combine, Metcalf reportedly shot up in the mock drafts. Some even projected Metcalf to go in the top ten.
However, at the combine, Metcalf somewhat struggled on the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle. These are the drills that supposedly measure agility. Apparently, some NFL general managers considered this to be a problem.
Much of the media expected Metcalf to still go very high in the draft, but this wasn’t the case. The first round of the 2019 NFL draft went by, and Metcalf still wasn’t selected by any teams.
Metcalf slipped all the way down to the last pick of the second round (64th overall) where he was selected by the Seattle Seahawks. His fall in the draft had many members of the media scratching their heads and rushing to ask their sources why exactly Metcalf slipped so far.
The consensus reason for Metcalf’s slip was his poor tests in the agility drills at the combine. Executives and scouts were concerned that he wouldn’t be able to be an effective route runner in the NFL because of his below-average ability to get in and out of breaks.
Hearing this criticism, in hindsight, is hilarious and confusing to me. Did they just ignore the fact that he was otherworldly in his other tests?
That being said, through much of his rookie season, it looked like Metcalf’s naysayers were correct. He looked like a second-round caliber player; good, not top-ten material.
The Seahawks made the playoffs and drew a first round matchup with the Eagles. In this game, Metcalf appeared to turn a corner, much to the chagrin of the rest of the NFL.
Metcalf recorded seven catches for 160 yards and a touchdown and was the standout performer in a game that was primarily a defensive slug-fest.
This season, Metcalf’s second year in the league, he’s been terrifying defenses. Somewhat reminiscent of Calvin Johnson, Metcalf looks like a man in a game of boys.
So far this year, Metcalf has four catches and at least 92 yards in six of seven games and has scored one or more touchdowns in five of seven.
In addition to the production, Metcalf has seemingly averaged about one or more legitimately jaw-dropping plays per game.
Even in Metcalf’s worst game of the season against the Cardinals, where he recorded only two catches for 23 yards, he had arguably his most stunning play so far when he chased Cardinals safety Budda Baker down after the Seahawks threw an interception. If you haven’t seen this play, go look it up on YouTube.
Metcalf, 22, is young and learning how to perfect his craft and still, at this point in his career, he is giving opposing defenses fits.
I’m not saying definitively this dude is going to be the next Calvin Johnson, who is arguably one of the best receivers of all-time.
He certainly has the necessary tools to get to that level though.
For the sake of the rest of the NFL, I hope what we’re seeing this year is the best of Metcalf. Because the possibility that he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet should send shivers down the spines of everyone in the league.